by Helen Moulsley

In a nutshell

1. Mentoring – what it’s all about

A working definition is that it is off-line help given by one person to another, assisting them to make significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking. It enables an individual to follow in the path of an older and wiser colleague, who can pass on knowledge and experience and open doors to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities.


2. Benefits for the mentor

Benefits for the mentor include

  • Visibility to and of other parts of the organisation
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Honing coaching and other skills
  • Developing self-knowledge and self-awareness.

Also, remember that your mentee can do things for you!


3. Benefits for the mentee

Probably the primary benefit of mentoring is personal and career development. A mentor can help you work through what you want to do with your career, and can bring a wider perspective to your thinking. Case studies show how a good mentor can

  • Give you valuable insights into how the company works and the requirements for success
  • Increase your self confidence
  • Help you negotiate transitions, such as from graduate trainee to manager
  • Help you identify long-term goals and work out how to achieve them
  • Give you a wider perspective on problems and how to handle them


4. The good mentor

The primary requirement of a mentor is a desire to grow individuals to benefit the organisation. In addition to this you will need to

  • Have a strong understanding of the organisation
  • Make yourself available
  • Follow through on actions to promise to do
  • Have skills in areas such as listening, coaching and leadership


5. The good mentee

  • Owns the mentoring relationship – and does not expect their mentor to do so
  • Is proactive, takes the initiative and sets the pace – with the agreement of the mentor
  • Defines and manages the agenda
  • Sets and reviews the objectives
  • Is action-oriented and ensures that actions are progressed
  • Is systematic in progressing the relationship


6. The first meeting

The first meeting serves four purposes:

  • For the mentor and mentee to get to know each other better
  • For expectations of both mentor and mentee to be articulated and agreed
  • For ground rules to be set and agreed
  • Objective setting


7. The contract

After the first meeting, the mentee should draw up a contract by which you will both work. This covers some important principles, such as confidentiality; it also provides structure and ensures that mentor and mentee have a common understanding of how they will work together.


8. The ongoing mentoring relationship

The primary responsibility for progressing the mentoring relationship lies with the mentee. However, both the mentor and the mentee have a role to play throughout the relationship.

  • The mentor will honour the contract, exercise listening and other skills to help the mentee arrive at their own conclusions, and know when to step back as they progress.
  • The mentee will be proactive, tracking outcomes and growing in independence, and will finally consider what contribution they can give back to the mentor.